However, it’s not always very easy to reach your audience on Facebook and that might even be especially because it has so many users. Since so many people and businesses use it, people’s news feeds are constantly changing, and not all updates can fit in one’s feed, making it very hard to reach fans. If you want people to see your posts and get more engagement, then your posts have to be in their ‘top news’ feeds.
This is where EdgeRank comes in. EdgeRank is basically Facebook’s algorithm that decides which posts get ranked in user’s ‘top news’ feeds and which don’t, so understanding the way it works and how to use it to your advantage can lead to lots of engagement and traffic to your website. If you write your posts according to the EdgeRank algorithm, they will have a much higher probability of being shown in user’s ‘top news’ feeds. To make it easier to understand, it’s a very similar process to Search Engine Optimization, where you optimize your website’s content to get shown in the top pages of Google searches.
So all you have to do is understand how EdgeRank works. Oh and also, you might have to pay. Although Facebook claims “their goal in news feed is always to show someone the most relevant information from the things they are connected to on Facebook”, apparently if you have enough money to spend on so-called promoted posts, the word “relevant” starts to lose its meaning and their users’ interests are not as important. In the past few months however there have been plenty of discussions and controversy regarding this change and rather than go into it here I thought it would be more beneficial to just focus on how businesses can use EdgeRank to their advantage.
Promoted Posts are half posts-half ads. The more followers you have, the more expensive they will be, but they basically mean that your post will appear higher in your followers’ news feeds, making it much more likely for them to see the posts. This is all great, but what got people angry was the fact that once this new feature was introduced, businesses immediately saw huge declines in comments, likes and shares, which made it seem like Facebook was playing dirty in order to get more money out of businesses. Fortunately, businesses still have a chance to get their posts in users’ ‘top news’ feeds organically. It just seems to be that much harder!
EdgeRank used to be an algorithm that decided what was displayed, and how high, on news feeds by calculating the sum of 3 Edges: Affinity, Weight and Time Decay, Edges being everything that happens on Facebook (comments, likes, shares). Since the latest change however, EdgeRank simply decides what will get in people’s news feeds (and how high, of course) by looking at how much engagement a post sees. So basically the more comments, likes and shares a post gets, the better the chances that it will get at the top of news feeds. This sounds like an easy job for big brands like Coca-Cola and Disney who already have a huge audience that loves to engage with them, but it can be really hard work for smaller brands.
There are other factors that contribute to a post’s EdgeRank, such as:
- Complaints - When one of your posts or your page receive lots of complaints, it will be much less likely to get posts in top news feeds.
- Interaction - If you have interacted with a specific user in the past (such as he/she liked your posts or shared them), your posts have a much better chance of getting in that person’s news feed.
- Behavior - If a user doesn’t usually like text posts, but rather videos, then he or she is more likely to get more videos in his/her news feed.
How to use Edgerank to your advantage
As I mentioned earlier, when Facebook made the latest changes to EdgeRank is September 2012, they made it much harder for businesses to get their posts in news feeds organically. But there still are some ways that can help you increase your posts rankings:
- Quality content. Great content bring in lots of engagement: likes, shares, comments. And the more engagement you get to your posts, the better your chances are to organically increase your EdgeRanking. Try to be more controversial, include calls to action in your posts and ask your followers questions that would spark debates among them.
- Timing is everything. Whenever you want to post something on Facebook, you have to make sure that your audience is actually online at that time. There have been numerous studies looking into what times people are most active on social media: for example, most people are on Facebook from 1 pm to 4 pm on weekdays, and usually between 8 pm to 8 am and on weekends there is the least activity. These are some very useful guidelines, however I believe it is best to test out yourself when your followers are most active. Every case is different, so I recommend that you try to post at different times and make a note of when you get the most engagement. Also, don’t forget that you might have followers that live in different time zones, so if you cater to an international audience you should post more frequently so as to reach everyone (that’s where scheduling tools come in very handy!)
- Consider different types of content. Text and links are great, but visual content can give you more engagement. An infographic made by M Booth and SimplyMeasured revealed that “on Facebook’s top 10 brand pages, photos and video drive the most engagement”, as videos are shared 12 times more than links and text posts combined (!!) and photos are liked 2 times more than text updates. That isn’t to say that you should completely forget about links and text posts, but rather that you should alternate different types of content.
- Just text. OK, I know this is the complete opposite of what I said earlier, but text-only posts can help you get to the top of news feeds, only for a completely different reason. This interesting phenomenon reported by GroupM Next and Forbes revealed that plain status updates with just text and no links or media were the only ones to see an increase, of 20% more fans after the algorithm was changed. This might be happening because plain text posts look less like spam to EdgeRank. The downside is that these posts won’t drive traffic to your website directly, but they will drive engagement and get more people to your Facebook Page and later on to your website.
- Analyze, analyze, analyze! Just like you would analyze your results to find out when to post, you should always look at the success of your different posts to find out what type of content your audience enjoys the most. Find out which posts get the most engagement, such as comments, likes and shares, and you will know what to post in the future.
Has your Facebook page been affected by the new EdgeRank algorithm? Have you paid to have Promoted Posts and have they worked for you? And what do you think of Facebook’s money-making strategy? Please let me know in your comments, as I would love to hear your opinions. And please share if you found this post useful.
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